Copts celebrate Christmas under guard

Switzerland’s small Coptic community celebrated Christmas under strong guard on Thursday, after a deadly attack on a Coptic church in Alexandria at New Year.

This content was published on January 7, 2011 - 09:41 and agencies

About 50 people gathered outside the church in Meyrin in canton Geneva before the service started, as a sign of solidarity with the Copts in Egypt.

The Coptic community of western Switzerland issued a statement expressing condolences to the families of the 23 people killed in the Alexandria attack.

“[We] express [our] great gratitude to all the other religious communities for their messages and the expression of their shared feelings. [We] also thank the Swiss and Genevan authorities for the measures they have taken to enable [us] to celebrate Christmas in peace and tranquillity,” the statement says.

Another service was held in the Coptic church in Dietikon, in canton Zurich.

In Egypt itself tens of thousands of police were deployed to guard churches all over the country. Several hundred Copts attended a service in the Alexandria church that was attacked at the end of mass on New Year’s Eve.

Human rights activists demonstrated in support outside the church, and some Muslims announced that they would attend the services or help protect the churches to demonstrate their solidarity.

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